I’m still in a state of disbelief that Apple is refusing to help the FBI. I believe they have a reason, probably several, but I don’t believe for one minute that the reasons that Apple have given have anything to do with their decision.
Without going in to a full explanation of the last several years, I feel safe in saying that Apple simply does not care about users privacy and security. Anyone that believes Apple does, I have a few items to remind them of.
- The Fappening
- App Store hack goes unchecked
- iOS has more security vulnerabilities than all competing mobile platforms combined!
No, it’s quite obvious that Apple cares naught for users security. But they are making a stand in this case of a phone used by a terrorist in San Bernardino. While they continue to claim it is for user’s security, I keep wondering the real reason behind it.
I think for most of us that follow mobile tech, the obvious answer is marketing. Apple has received loads of free publicity over this case. And it’s surprising working in Apple’s favor. While the fact that this is a work phone utilized by a terrorist responsible for a heinous act, and the actual owner of the phone wants it opened, seems to be brushed over all to quickly in the media. What the media is focusing on, is that Apple’s encryption can’t be broke. Daily we are being shown article after article claiming stating that Apple is providing top notch unbreakable security. Nevermind the fact that they are providing it to a dead terrorist.
I’m extremely saddened to see giants in the tech industry falling in line behind Apple in this advertising of Apple’s security. We have seen article after article stating that these other tech companies are backing Apple. I wonder if these other tech companies realize that a reader that is giving these articles a cursory read are taking their statements as confirmation that Apple’s security is better than their own? I really wish they would look at this. Reading these comments utilizing a little used skill, called critical thinking, will see a very different story. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, quite literally all of these other companies are riding the fence. They are all making it very clear that they will help authorities, while stating that Apple shouldn’t be forced to “hack” their own software.
And there is the breakdown. I feel like I shouldn’t have to repeat this so often, but I will continue repeating it. Apple would not have to “hack” their software, if they didn’t choose to make a software which could not comply with US laws concerning search and seizure. The “dangerous precedent” is not that the FBI is asking for access to a phone used by a terrorist or criminal, the “dangerous precedent” is that a commercial company chose to say no.
Getting back on topic, it hit me this morning that there may be another reason why Apple has chosen to take a route in which they can throw their hands in the air and say “we can’t help”. That reason is profit.
Apple is not the market leader. They do not hold the majority of the world’s marketshare. In fact, they are very far from it. If you compare Apple’s iOS market share to Android’s, they shouldn’t even be considered a threat. Compare Apple computers to Windows based computers and you will see the same story. However, Apple is by far the most profitable company. There’s a reason for that.
Anyone with even the most basic of understanding of business should understand where profit comes from.
Sales – Costs = Profit
Pretty basic right? Through Apple’s marketing, Apple has managed to skew this equation in some pretty extreme way. Apple demands a premium price. A very premium price. Meanwhile, when looking at the hardware on an iPhone compared to the hardware on other flagship devices, we can see a fairly massive disassociation. Apple has never been called an early adopter of new tech. In fact, much of what Apple introduces as ‘new’ is years old when compared to other platforms. Introducing new tech, once it is already old, is a much cheaper way to do it. Think about how long it took Apple to utilize NFC. Apple is quite literally years behind everyone else when it comes to screen tech. Should we even begin to wonder how much money is saved using such small batteries? And it’s not simply devices. Look at the cost disparity between iPhone accessories and any other platform’s accessories. Additionally, by utilizing such things as proprietary connectors, and only allowing other manufacturers to license these items to be able to work with Apple’s devices, Apple is a seeing a profit that I doubt anyone else has ever seen. They have increased their sales number to unbelievable heights by having such high prices, and have kept their costs low, in order to see massive profits. Let’s not even think about other costs of doing business which Apple is very creative with, we already know how creative Apple can be with taxes.
This fight with the FBI follows Apple’s guidance that for the first time, their expecting lower sales of their iPhone, which makes up most of the company’s business. That will obviously make their sales number drop, and in turn, their profits drop. Apple needs to decrease their costs. Can they really do this? They’ve already been surpassed by their competitors on the tech front. How far can they fall behind before users start to realize this and move on to competing platforms?
An article came through my news feed today from SBSun.com http://www.sbsun.com/general-news/20160311/apple-spars-with-doj-over-china-allegations-in-iphone-dispute which provided some numbers I had been wondering about, and was glad to see in print.
In the first half of 2015, China demanded Apple produce data from more than 4,000 iPhones. Apple produced data from 74 percent of the devices.
In the first half of 2015, Apple received 3,824 requests from law enforcement agencies across the country [US] for data stored on 9,717 of its devices. Apple provided data in response to 3,093 of those requests, or 81 percent, according to a report by the company.
That percentage was relatively consistent throughout 2014. In the first half of the year, Apple complied with 83 percent of American law enforcement agency requests for data from its devices, and in the second half of the year complied with 79 percent of data requests, according to company reports.
So we see some numbers from the US, and from China. I can only assume other countries have similar requests. How many man hours are spent complying with these requests? What is the labor costs? Anyone that’s ever managed any sort of business knows that when it comes time to tighten the belt, labor is the first thing to go. We know that there is a labor cost in responding to these requests. And it’s not labor costs which contribute to future sales. How nice would it be if you, as a business person could simply state “those things we have to do, that we don’t really want to? We’re not going to do those anymore”. That is truly what Apple is saying in this case. I understand the want to do that. I’m sure that Apple has seen a steady rise in these costs over the years, after all, the smartphone market has grown, and crime has always been on the cutting edge of technology. We already know how much more we could get done in life using smartphones, and I’m sure that criminals have discovered the same thing.
Could this be the real reason behind Apple’s choice to defy the lawful demands of the FBI? I don’t know. Logically, I could see this being a reason. I can surely see the marketing reason behind it. There may be another reason entirely, or many of these reasons contributing to the ultimate choice. There is one thing we can be sure of, user’s privacy and security is not one of those reasons.